Another Canonet QL17 question: Batteries
My mother used to have a Canonet GIII QL17, and I've decided to buy a couple for sentimental reasons more than anything else -- one for me and one for my sister (who's currently without any cameras). Anyhow, in doing a bit of Web research, I've found that these cameras were designed for the 1.35v mercury cells that are no longer available in the US, and I'm wondering what others have found to be good replacements. Are 1.5v silver oxide or alkaline cells good enough, or do they result in too much exposure error? (I expect that both I and my sister will shoot mainly print films, not slides.) If the error for using, say, a 1.5v silver battery is predictable, how much should the ASA speed be adjusted to compensate? (I gather alkaline cells' voltage varies over their lifetime.) Is it worth the extra cost for a WeinCell battery? The MR-9 adapter looks interesting, but is hideously expensive (it costs more than a used Canonet on eBay). Thanks for any tips.
I use 1.5v batteries and set the film speed about 2/3 of a stop slower than the actual speed. I got that figure by calibrating against another light meter. The difference does not seem to be absolutely linear, but it's near enough, especially if you only use neg film. There seem to be slight differences between cameras so it would be worth repeating the process yourself.
I found roughly the same 2/3-1 stop difference when I did this with a Canonet. Right now I have an evil battery that works correclty, so I can't check.
I have heard of people using smaller 1.35V batteries and shimming the battery compartment with foil.
There are several approaches to this, 1.5 silver batteries with setting the asa about 1 stop off, wein cells, air zinc hearing aid batteries with a rubber "O" ring around them.
the difference between the hearing aid batteries ( about $1.00US} and the wein cells is that they make a larger case for the battery so you don't need the "O" ring and they seal up part of the holes in the back that let air in and activate the battery. I'v heard of people using clear nail polish to do the same thing to the air-zincs. what this does is basically double the use time frommabout 2 months to 4
Air zinc batteries are my choice - I tried the Wein's, will do the hearng aid batts next time around. I find that they last a reasonably long time - mind you the QL is not my main camera and does not get a hell of a work out. That said, the air zincs degrade through exposure to air, so usage is not of paramount importance. The almost air-tight batt compartment of the QL seems to keep drainage to a minimum.
I find that the camera works fine for most things (metering-wise) but I find the meter to be a bit of a guideline more than an accurate measuring device. I really only use it to put me in the ball park and go with my gut on final settings - so I would not lose any sleep over the .15v one way or another. That said, under simple conditions, it works fine in auto mode - just dont expect it to work miracles in back light or deep shadows, etc.
To me, the minor haggles are well worth it for what I think is the best 35mm RF you can buy as far as bang for your buck is concerned.
One more thing - there is a website called photoethnography.com which has a very nice little write up on the QL17 by a lady named Karen Nakamura. I am not familiar with her level of expertise personally, but when I asked several people (including a few on this forum) gave her an absolute and unwaivering vote of confidence. The reason I mention this is, she claims the QL17 GIII (the last model) has voltage-compensating circuitry. I decided to play it safe with the zinc-air, but would love to get a definite yes or no on this for future consideration.
Or, you could always get a Canonet 19 with the photocell ring around the lens and not worry about batteries Jokes aside, I have one and love it - but it is no substitute, nor is it really the same type of camera, as the QL17.
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I bought one from him and find that it works well.
If you have a Wein, save the washer from it. You can just knock it off with a little persuasion working around it. Push it off in the "negative" direction. That will fit the hearing aid 675 air-zinc batteries and convert them for use in the same way. The center hole is a bit tapered on mine, so be sure you reinstall it so that the wider side of the tapered hole is on the positive side.
If you don't need side contact with the battery rim, use a thin slice of 1/2 inch PVC to center the battery in the compartment. I do that on my Canonet. My wife uses the CRIS adapter in her camera with good results so far. You can also use an O-ring as mentioned here with a hearing aid 675 air-zinc.
I've never known Karen Nakamura to give poor advice, and would be very surprised if her information about the compensated circuitry on later models was not correct. She used to work for a division of Canon as an intern. I don't think it was the photography division, though.
I can't speak for the accuracy of the built-in meter on my Canonet QL-1.7 with the hearing aid batteries, as I've been using a Gossen Digiflash in incident mode lately for determining exposures. I really like it a lot.
First, thanks to all for your advice! I suspect I'll settle on silver-oxide batteries and set the ASA speed a bit low. That could even be handy, if the error approaches a full stop, since it might let me use ISO 1600 film if I wanted to, dialed in as ASA 800. (Mostly I use ISO 50-400 films, though.)
Thanks for the pointer. I just checked that site, and unless the claim is made somewhere other than on the Canon GIII QL17 review page, that's not what she said. That page includes the claim:
Originally Posted by gnashings
In other words, you won't fry the electronics by using a 1.5v battery, and print film's got enough exposure latitude that your prints will still be printable given a small error.
Although it uses the much hated PX625 mercury battery that is no longer available in the U.S., the camera is fairly resistant to higher voltages as long as you're using print film. The exposure will be slightly off, but this usually isn't a problem.
OK - I feel silly now - I swear that QL17 review looked different when I looked at it first... and made a claim of Canon "doing the right thing" (and I do quote) regarding the mercury cells and provided the advice on the circuit being present...
Now... I have not looked at the page since I initially bought the QL... so the only possibility is that I imagined the whole thing, or that in light of new info the page was corrected.
The thing that really throws me is that I actually asked on these very pages how reliable Karen's info was due to that claim - and was given glowing reviews of her competence....
Having nothing to go on other than my sincere conviction that this was what I read and the photoethnography page is where I read it... I have to conced a mistake and apologize for any misleading advice that I may have inadvertantly given...
There are multiple Canonet links off Karen's page. Could you have read it looking at one of those?